Sheeesh Gary, put some clothes on

I’ve returned triumphantly from a two week stint of “doing-as-little-as-possible-but-somehow-managing-to-be-more-busy-than-if-I-had-stayed-at-home” AKA a holiday. Being on holiday is like being in a sensory depravation tank as I don’t have any music, the internet is limited, I have little TV time, no consoles, no sculpting, drawing or arty stuff. Its mainly boardgames and walking. I’m not complaining, it helps to unwind my mind as I focus too much on what I’m working on, so this disconnection from day to day working helps to refresh my creative urges but I tend to get the itch (my name for the nagging need to make something) which means I come up with plenty of mad schemes to punish myself with late hours with when I get back home.

The first week started off fairly easily, it was mainly just shuffling around a few places near to Tywyn and not doing too much, the drive from Ipswich tends to make me feel compressed so walking around the beach helps to stretch out a bit. While online trying to plan things to do around the iffy Easter weather I stumbled across a company in Aberystwyth called Mutant Caterpillar Games (I’ll admit it, I was looking for somewhere to buy boardgames to pass away the rain), we normally make a trip to Aberystwyth and I was intrigued by their claim to buy Spectrum gear. Dropping an email to them came up trumps so I dug out my old 128+2a and old games then wallowed in nostalgia while packing up the bits to take the next day. While scrounging up some YS mags I found a map of Jet Set Willy 2 and it got me thinking… (heres where plan 1 comes in) I’ve been reading up on Unity lately and after talking to Dan Higham and listening to a talk he gave about Unity I must admit to being interested. I found a tutorial on 2d games using Unity and it seems like its not too difficult to do (2d in a 3d engine, not create unity games) hmmmm….

So the first crackpot plan is an updated JSW using 3d content built in c4d, imported into Unity and built into a working game. Why this could work is that theres no shooting, no 3d wandering (just left, right and jump) and its already planned out. I can learn to code as I build each room. I create a library of content (monsters, objects etc…) and add to it as needed. Its a massive task but I honestly think it could be a massive amount of fun to work on.

After dropping off the stuff with the guys at MCG we went into Aber and naturally Waterstones was on the list. A few months ago I parted (rather sadly) with a signed copy of Anno Dracula that I had paid £75 for years ago. I say sadly because I was too damn scared to read it and didn’t want it to get damaged but once the new reprints had come out it was pointless to hang onto a copy that I would never read. I picked up a copy on the new print (with notes by Kim Newman) and read it throughout the holiday. What started as a good read started to turn into another itch I had to scratch and I kept thinking about the Francis Ford Coppola version of Dracula for some reason. While Dracula doesn’t come into it until the end, I kept imagining the characters in the book referring to the Gray Oldman Dracula with good reason. At the end of the book when Vlad is brought into the book he is nekkid. As Buck nekkid (Texas Ranger) as they come. Yup, it even describes his erm… fleshy manbits in great detail. As much as I try I can’t imagine either the Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee version of the Count allowing his old chap to waft around in the breeze in the way Mr Newman allows this giant Dracula to behave. Somehow its Oldman’s oldman that fits. I should say at this point I have read the book before so sort of knew this was coming which is partly why the image of Gary slips in (can I get much more innuendo in?) also the rest of the book describes the vampires that are at Dracula’s court as being savage beast of men who had been with him for centuries. All the other versions of Dracula seem like loners from a dinner party but Coppola’s Dracula is more of a feral charmer so suits the scene. Now what didn’t help is the day before getting to the end of the book, the daughter had been watching “Home on the Range” a rather strange film that marked the end of Disneys 2D films until the glorious return to form with “the Princess and the Frog”. One of the characters is voiced by the ever popular Steve Buscemi and I managed to get his voice lodged into my internal monologue for the next few days. Cue the rather strange bit in my mind when the rather dramatic entry into the court of the Prince Consort and the description of Draculas naked form when Steve Buscemi pops into my head and says “Sheeesh Gary, put some clothes on.” At this point I had to stop reading for a few minutes to tell Steve off.

So in a roundabout way I’m getting to the next project I want to tackle. I’ve been told I’m getting a train set for my birthday so I’m going to come up with a theme to base the scenery on and I’m currently leaning towards an Anno Dracula themed trainset. The Count has a fondness for trains and I like the idea of a graveyard, a castle and some 18th century buildings that I could build. I’m marking out a place in the cellar to put it and how much wood I’ll need to make the base with. Its either horror, steampunk or post apocalypse at the moment. I’d like to go western but its possibly a bit old hat… maybe western steampunk like Deadlands.

A couple of ideas formed and got squirted out before fully forming and of course in the meantime I need to finish off lil Cthulhu and the Babylon 5 scene I’ve been working on for far too long, but both of these projects are very loooooong term. The train set was originally for my retirement as I was going to sit in a room and paint trees until I die but I think i can live with starting it sooner. The JSW one will be a ‘learn as you go’ jobbie but thats the best way for me in terms of learning, i can’t do it any other way as I forget what I have done with tutorials. I can’t guarantee this one will come to much but at least it will be something to kick around.

Days cycled to work: 62
Days driven all the way to work: 0
Days driven half way to drop the car off at the garage to have a service: 1
Days tramped along in snow and ice: 2

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